Sheldon “Shelly” Saltman, the sports promoter behind the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match and Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 87.
The original president of Fox Sports, Saltman started his career as a sports announcer before moving to promotions at media companies like the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, WBZ-TV Boston, WJW-TV Cleveland and MCA TV. He then founded his own public relations firm and worked with clients including Andy Williams, Roger Miller, Ray Stevens and The Osmonds.
As a manager, Saltman represented hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, NFL tight end John Mackey and singer Vicki Carr.
Saltman also promoted some of the biggest events in the world of sports. He promoted all three of the heavyweight boxing championships between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis duel between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and Evel Knievel’s failed motorcycle jump across Snake River Canyon.
For television, Saltman created, wrote and produced several shows, such as “Pro-Fan,” “Challenge of the Sexes,” “Battle of the NFL Cheerleaders” and the boxing film “Ring of Passion.”
He is survived by his sister Barbara Marder, half-brother Jack Saltman, his children Steven and Lisa, and four grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at Mount Sinai Simi Valley on Friday, Feb. 22, at 12 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the University Kidney Research Organization.